American Chemical Society
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Quantitatively Visualizing Airborne Disease Transmission Risks of Different Exhalation Activities through CO2 Imaging

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posted on 2023-04-19, 13:04 authored by Yijiao Peng, Maosheng Yao
Aerosol transmission has played a leading role in COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is still a poor understanding about how it is transmitted. This work was designed to study the exhaled breath flow dynamics and transmission risks under different exhaling modes. Using an infrared photography device, exhaled flow characteristics of different breathing activities, such as deep breathing, dry coughing, and laughing, together with the roles of mouth and nose were characterized by imaging CO2 flow morphologies. Both mouth and nose played an important role in the disease transmission though in the downward direction for the nose. In contrast to the trajectory commonly modeled, the exhaled airflows appeared with turbulent entrainments and obvious irregular movements, particularly the exhalations involving mouth were directed horizontal and had a higher propagation capacity and transmission risk. While the cumulative risk was high for deep breathing, those transient ones from dry coughing, yawning, and laughing were also shown to be significant. Various protective measures including masks, canteen table shields, and wearable devices were visually demonstrated to be effective for altering the exhaled flow directions. This work is useful to understanding the risk of aerosol infection and guiding the formulation of its prevention and control strategies. Experimental data also provide important information for refining model boundary conditions.